I left home for the dentist’s clinic about ten-minutes earlier than usual because the staff might need to issue some paperwork to be completed. A third of the way to the clinic, the railroad crossing signals activated to halt traffic. The train moved very slowly–perhaps 25 miles per hour. It was also an extremely long train.
The sense of tension and urgency began to build up in my neck and shoulders. I automatically took a few deep breaths and reminded myself that the delay was beyond my control. Eventually the last freight car of the train had passed, allowing the traffic signals to switch off. The remainder of the trip was uneventful except that I would arrive at the clinic only a few minutes before the scheduled appointment time.
The receptionist greeted me and said the oral hygienist would be with me next. There was no paperwork to fill out, so I could have a seat in the waiting room. The sensation of relief and relaxation settled into my mind and body. However, the feelings of urgency began to return after I realized the hygienist was still busy with another patient half-an-hour later. Again, I had to remind myself that the situation was beyond my control. I had made reasonable efforts to arrive at the clinic on time, there was no need to become upset.
Eventually, the hygienist ushered me into her work space. The cleaning and oral exam was uneventful and normal. Afterwards, the feeling of relaxation was palpable. The drive home was pleasant.
It is easy to get wound up like the mainspring in a mechanical watch. This is a natural, normal occurrence. When this happens it’s helpful to visualize the mainspring slowly unwinding as it powers the gears and wheels that drive the watch hands around the dial. In the instance of the watch, it’s important not to overwind or else the tension will reduce the life of the movement and the watch will require repair service.
The same is somewhat true about us humans. We need a certain amount of urgency in our lives. This motivates us to accomplish desired goals and tasks as well as perform our regular daily routines. We mentally wind ourselves up either mindfully by boosting our attitudes or unmindfully when panic sets in. When we become over-winded and tense, the quality of life diminishes. We may simply need to mentally slow down. If these situations become chronic, it may be wise to see a licensed health professional.
When we take several moments to contemplate the workings of the Universe we can intuit some helpful knowledge. As we look into the sky on a cloudless night, we see countless stars and galaxies. Their movement appears elegantly silent yet powerful. We notice our Sun during the daytime with its brilliant light and heat. All of these phenomenon appear quiet and ever-present.
We understand that appearances don’t always reveal the entire truth. Astronomers teach us that the galaxies, stars, and our own star are not quiet, peaceful entities. They constantly erupt with unimaginable thermonuclear reactions. The heat and radioactivity are hostile to living organisms. If one could conventionally hear them, the roaring would be deafening. The stars’ nuclear fuel continually reacts with urgency. So, although there is unspeakable violence and danger throughout the Universe, from our viewpoint, we see a calm, relaxing mental picture.
The takeaway from this ramble is that it is wise to harbor a subtle sense of urgency when we are at leisure and that it is likewise smart to cultivate a sense of relaxation during the times when we are busy. It has been said by wise people in the past and present that occasionally the most vital, urgent thing a person can do is to allow time for complete rest and relaxation. Sometimes we need to allow our internal, physical movements to unwind.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes 20th century journalist and syndicated columnist, Sydney J. Harris. “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”